Friday, July 30, 2010

Flip Flopping Personality

Not too long ago, Brian bought me my favorite shoes ever, my Reef flip flops, and is evident in my photo, I've already broken them in. I wear them all the time and have probably over-identified with them.  Our shoes, like my Reefs, have a way of revealing our character.  My observations:

Rainbows, Reefs, or Teva Flip Flops:  These people are more interested in casual beachy, outdoorsy comfort than anything else.  They have such dedication to this type of footwear, they will wear these even in the rain, extreme cold, and only begrudgingly put on real shoes in the snow (maybe).

Any Other Flip Flops:  Generally not as die hard as the aforementioned flip flop wearers.  They like cute designs and sparkly rhinestones or platforms and they are more about what they look like than how they feel.  These people will more readily abandon the flip flop in inclement weather.

Stilettos:  Divas must love stilettos since they tend to wear them to places they shouldn't, like hiking because fashion is pain and completely worth it if just one person notices and compliments.

High tops:  These people either really liked the 80's and are on a quest to bring them back or have an obsession with the NBA since there are few other reasons to encase a whole foot and ankle in what is most likely synthetic material only manufactured to increase the sales of fabreeze.  Maybe weak ankles...

Light Up Character Shoes:  These people are usually in the six and under crowd since they are the ones who are most attracted to the shoes with Batman and Spiderman.  When these were at the height of popularity back in the day, the gang member adults who had to have them found them a liability when robbing stores at night since the light up feature made following the perpetrator incredibly elementary.  Now, just the elementary school kids like them...

Sandals with Socks:  These people need to be told that this is not more "dressy" despite what they might think and it does not matter that this is an acceptable practice in China.

Crocs:  People who wear these on a routine basis subscribe to the "comfy is king" mantra, though I've often seen these shoes and wondered why in the world do you name a comfort focused shoe after a man eating animal because, of course, I want to shove my foot down a crocodile's mouth.

Wingtips:  At the office, great.  Anywhere else, ummmmm... The phrase "unable to relax" comes to mind.  These people often are at odds with the flip flop crew.

Cowboy Boots:  Anyone who genuinely wears these will most likely call you "ma'am" or "sir".

Indoor Soccer Shoes:  People wearing these around on a regular basis probably don't play indoor at all.  They just want to look like they do.  This just horrifies all the real indoor players who can only think about how much wear this is putting on the shoes and how it will mess up their ball handling.

Vans/Sketchers:  This is the step up in formality from the flip flop and people who are a bit more concerned about their ability to walk long distances usually opt for these.  Or they are trying to relive their skater glory days from junior high.

Ballet Flats:  Girls who have embraced their inner dancer and femininity like these as a go to footwear option.  That or they used to be in the high heels category but now have children they might have to spontaneously chase down and they prefer not to break an ankle but aren't ready to go to the athletic shoes on a full time basis and hence feel like they have let themselves go.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's Just Call It a Graphic Print


I walked into our bonus room recently and suddenly realized some redecoration had taken place without my knowledge.   A little person who I know well and love had decided that the room did not have near enough blue, his favorite color, for his liking.  Luke took matters into his own hands and as is evident in the photos, he was quite proud of his handiwork.

Shortly later, I discovered the blue crayon rampage had not been contained only to the bonus room.  A section of wall in his room hidden by his tool bench had also received his artistic treatment.

So I did what any normal parent would do and took out the camera and made my child pose by his artwork.  I do fully accept responsibility should this incident happen again and I find him standing next to the scribbles and saying cheese.

However, when I went to make him scrub the walls and the chair, I realized the creative episode was much more extensive than I first thought.  Not only was blue crayon on the walls but the window sill, the toy tool bench, the decorative pillows, the toy box and the bed sheets.  This left me wondering the age old question all mothers sometimes ask themselves:  "Where in the world was I?"

In my defense, this happened during "nap time" and it explains why my child seemed extraordinarily tired after it was over.  Consequently, art supplies are no longer kept in Stephen's room. 

As I sat with him during Operation De-Scribble, I thought I would try to pound the point home to him that is not acceptable behavior.  Hoping to give him a chance to redeem himself, I asked, "Do we color on walls?"

"YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!"

Apparently, scrubbing with a magic eraser is fun too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread

Tuesday was a glorious rainy day.  I love days like this when I can stay home and listen to the thunder rolling and I particularly enjoy the fact that my plants are being watered with no work from me.  Due to a combination of doing too much yesterday and the rain which always makes me ache a little extra, I felt utterly exhausted.  Even though I have a bunch of stuff I want to get done (kitchen scrubbed, laundry folded and some editing for the book I'm writing), I decided that I needed to sleep.

With both kids down for naps, the house was amazingly quiet.  This is such a rare occurrence here that I really don't know what to do when it happens.  It was a perfect opportunity to rest and I spent an incredibly peaceful hour resting; falling asleep to the sound of a light drizzle has to be one of my favorite ways to drift off.

After waking up, things went right back to normal: it was loud, crazy and hurried as I made food for our church small group dinner and herded small people out the door.  Our typical chaos that ensued just made me thankful that I had gotten some extra rest.

I often feel (wrongly) guilty when I take a time out and do something like that for myself when there is so much else I should be doing.  I'm really a Martha instead of a Mary from Luke 10:38-42 since I always feel the pressure of what "should" get done.  The truth is, my "shoulds" like most people's are probably more self imposed and end up a slave to the "should". 

I feel like I need to give all my time to my family but it comes at a price of utter exhaustion from me and ironically, the quality of "me" is so depleted that I'm not actually sure that it is doing them any particular good.  Whereas when I am taking care of myself and being the person that I need to be, I have so much more to give and can make a much bigger stamp on their lives. 

I've decided that pretending to be able to do it all is basically denying the fact that I am human and that I do, indeed, need sleep.  It doesn't actually get me anywhere so I intentionally decided to not be, as Bilbo says in Lord of the Rings, "...butter scraped over too much bread." 

And while I have less than most people thanks to chronic illness, this is really true for everyone.  We sacrifice taking care of ourselves in the busyness of the moment and we neglect to be the people who God wants us to be.  That is the only thing I really should worry about!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

S'more Experiements

In college, I majored in psychology and learned all sorts of interesting facts and most notably, I learned how to train a pigeon to turn in a circle when he saw a green triangle.  True that Einstein, as we called him, was quite an intelligent, bird but in the space of one lab session, my lab partner and I were quite behaviorists and were able to exact the desirable (albeit strange for pigeon) behavior from him. 

With this accomplishment under my belt, I believed that I could train my children to do whatever I wanted and the famous behaviorist, Skinner, would have been proud of me.  So, all behavioral skeptics will doubtless be unsurprised to hear that I now exclaim on a regular basis, "I could get a pigeon to turn in a circle but why can't I get you to do this?!"  Apparently, my children don't understand the psychological principles of behavior modification.  That, or they take a lot more incentive than my Einstein did.

Tonight, once again, Ethan and Luke decided that they did not want to eat dinner.  It did not matter to them that they had been begging for food merely a half hour prior to food being prepared.  Logic did not prevail, nor did threats of bedtime or begging or pleading from me.  So, I thought I would try to reward them in a very sly manner to provide them with the incentive to eat dinner. 

I made some s'mores for Brian and me. 

As planned, they immediately noticed and asked if they could have some too.  Of course they could, they just needed to eat their dinner first.  Even though they love s'mores, I have never seen more apathetic eating of dinner.  Ethan finally did more than an hour after I handed him his plate and Luke never came around.  He said that was fine and all he wanted anyway was the graham cracker. 

Never mind the fact that they have been begging me to make these s'mores for several weeks.  I think I have the two exceptions the rules of human behavior living with me in my house. 

But then, they are my children and very much like me and so there is a very good possibility that they are doing behavioral experiments on me just as I am with them and the s'mores...  So, who is the pigeon now?

Monday, July 26, 2010

On Falling Off the Face of the Planet

This weekend, I felt like I disappeared from life thanks to another fibromyalgia flare up.  All my grand plans went out the window Saturday morning when I woke up and realized that walking wasn't really on the agenda.  I spent most of the day either lying on our couch or trying to sleep off the pain.  After church on Sunday, I tried to walk since that sometimes helps the pain but I only ended up back on the couch again.  I'm really hoping that this weekend isn't a sign of things to come for this week but, as it is, I am starting out in a state of exhaustion.

Probably one of the most difficult things about having fibro is the propensity to fall of the face of the planet for a few days or even weeks since when I don't feel well, I tend to curl up in a little ball and not talk or make any effort to keep up my relationships, even the ones that I cherish the most. 

The pain is so exhausting that I end up without much to give but I also have a hard time accepting being taken care of by other people.  I think I still buy into the myth that we should all be able to be independent and self sufficient and that we should never give into our weaknesses.  Ironically, I think this line of thinking is really more of my weakness than the fibro is; trying to do everything while it is painfully obvious that I can't just makes the fallacy that much more pathetically obvious. 

We all need other people and community and it takes strength of character, not weakness to be able to accept that.  Such has been my musings while lying on the couch.  It has become quite evident to me that the fibro is more than just a disease; it is an indicator and litmus test of my flaws and bad days do make me take stock of how things are really going with me and where I need to grow.

I was too proud to take my cane to church today even though I really did need it.  When I needed to sit down during worship, I have to admit, I was a bit too concerned with what other people might be thinking as they were there standing.  Even though I have had fibro for more than a decade, I think I still care too much about silly stuff like that (although, it was really funny the time I got some dirty looks from a group of older people for walking too slow!).  This is probably the subconscious reason that I haven't made much of an effort checking into what it would take to get a handicapped parking placard for my really bad day.  Brian again asked me about it today as I limped back to the car after the service.  So, with all my couch time reflections floating in my head, I committed to checking into it this week and learning to let go of my "self-sufficiency" and pride.  I'm also going to make sure that I get together with friends this week!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Out-Numbered

The realization that I am the only female living in this house hit me today (other than the hamster, of course); I am most definitely outnumbered at three to one.  While the ratio has thus stood for the past two years, eight months, nineteen days, and seven and a half hours as I write, it has taken a while to sink in.  Sink in it did today.

I think my boys are human tornadoes; toys and clothes and dishes and sporting equipment can be found all over my house particularly after what has turned out to be another long week since Brian has had more project deadlines and long hours.  In my attempt to regain something of a semblance of order, I declared today Project Deep Clean.  Sadly, it did not go so well. 

In church these past few weeks, we have had a wonderful guest speaker, Tim Downs, who has been discussing relationships and specifically how males and females were created differently with the point of learning to live in marriage as Paul exhorts us to in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3:7.  One of the points Tim Downs made was that women's awareness is like a full satellite dish that never shuts off in comparison to men's being like a cordless phone antenna that has a limited range.  Today I discovered that this is true even for 5 and 2 year-olds.  Their very strong ability to focus on one thing at a time, or antennae, unfortunately kept picking up the signal of the video games in the bonus room.  Hence little cleaning was accomplished by them leaving me to notice acutely how many boy-oriented toys we seem to be in possession of.  As my mom put it so succinctly, there is very little pink in my house- just some of my clothes and the sweet n' low packets.

An incident today also demanded that I scrub the boys' bathroom and this, I believe, is the main reason I am feeling out-numbered.  Scrubbing the toilet of potty training boys is an interesting task and yet another blaring reminder that boys are different from girls.  And while I adore all of the wonderful males I live with, I decided to light a candle and revel in the smells of girly-ness replacing some other smells. 

I think the issue of being outnumbered for me has been so pressing lately because it is an issue of contentment and trusting God that He indeed knows and gives me what I need since my desire for a daughter has of yet been unfulfilled.  Truthfully, I've realized that this, like any other "want" or disappointment has the propensity to become either a barrier or something that draws me closer to God.  We can only react for or against something, although there are differing degrees of reactions, and it is my challenge is to continually choose to give it to God and trust Him that He, in His infinite wisdom, knows best.  And I think I'm going to ask Him to share some of that wisdom with me in regards to how to keep the boys from climbing the furniture.  Maybe it is time another hazelnut mocha frappe!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seems like a Good Idea at the Time

I'm a big picture taker; ever since I purchased my current digital camera, I am constantly snapping.  I've had a camera since my grandpa gave me my first 35 mm when I was 8 years old, but with when we went digital, I snap constantly.  This camera is so little, it fits in my pocket and our desktop has a slot to directly insert the memory card and import photos so I have realized I have no excuse not to document my family's life in photos.  As we've been trying to decide the best way to back up our hard drive (with two little boys who love to play with water, anything can happen, you know!), I've been looking through our old photos and several caught my eye from a trip to Washington, D.C. a year ago and it got me asking an age old question:

Why do we take weird photos with monuments?

Seriously!  We all do it; when we were lining up these shots with Ethan eating the Washington Monument, other people were doing the same!  It's not just the Washington Monument either.  I doubt there have been very few people who have been fortunate enough to make it to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and yet chosen to walk away with out a photo of them holding it up or pretending to knock it over.  In Colonial Williamsburg, the longest line there was the wait to get to take your photo while in the stocks.  In all of my musings, I have not been able to come up with a good philosophical answer as to why it seems wrong to not get some of these pictures but these aren't the ones we tend to frame and put up for display in our living rooms.

I think it is the same phenomenon that made me impulsively purchase the Tigger ears to wear at Disneyland.  It seems like a good idea at the time.


I'm planning on taking the kids for some professional photos soon and my new goal is to integrate this sense of authentic fun into the shots we take so that one day, the boys can look back and really see themselves in their photos.  And really, anyone who knows us is already aware that my boys seldom sit down all posed like that anyway!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's So Funny?


On Monday, I felt like the most horrible of horrible mothers.  Let me explain...

Ethan had his kindergarten physical and much to our chagrin, we discovered that he was due for several shots.  Being the safety and security cherishing person that I am, I'm big on vaccinations.  While I hate putting my kids through them, I think it was much less painful than actually coming down with any of these oh so attractive sounding diseases like pertussis, diphtheria or tetanus.  And Ethan knows it.  Last week when I started to prepare him for the doctor's appointment, his first question was, "Will I get shots?"  When I didn't immediately answer negatory, he looked concerned.

His terror reached a breaking point when three nurses came in the examination room, one to hold him in her lap while two others simultaneously delivered the injections.  Ethan knew his worst fear had been realized and I felt awful for him and I promised him that we would go out for ice cream afterwards since he was doing such a great job.  But, the moment the nurses wiped his arms with the antiseptic wipe, he screamed bloody murder and I lost it.  I started laughing.  Not really the good mother response.

I was immediately swept back to the time when my dear little sister, Stefanie, was the unfortunate injection victim at one of our check ups.  I'm the oldest of four children and we were all really close growing up and so many of my childhood memories involve all of us.  This time was no different.  We were all getting shots for some reason and when it was Stefanie's turn, although being older than Ethan currently is, she still had an acutely hard time with needles.  So much so that she screamed like a banshee the moment they tried to clean her arm with the wipe as if the antiseptic had been the actual needle.  The poor girl was then subjected to teasing for months (probably years is more accurate, really since I am currently writing about it more than 15 years after the incident) about how scary those wipes at the doctor's office are. 

The idea that my son shares this connection with his aunt was just too much for me and I entered into bad-mother-lacking-empathy territory.  So much for appearing to support him in his fear.  While I really did care and held his hand through the whole thing, I'm sure my not being in the moment with him undermined my concern.  I know all moms have major fails but it never feels good while you are in one even if it is a little funny (or maybe a lot funny, as I giggle right now just remembering the scene with my siblings).  I'm entirely thankful for grace and the silver lining of being able to share with Ethan how he is like his dear auntie in this way.  And, I'm going to take him out for ice cream twice, I think.

I must note as a disclaimer, my sister does not remember this alleged incident quite as I do.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A New Literary Friend


I made a new friend this past weekend when I was perusing the bookstore with a coupon good for a third off any one item.  I met him on the shelf in the back of the store and the coupon encouraged me to take a chance and get to know Oswald Chambers.  In the past several days, he has joined the ranks of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austin, Francis Schaeffer, Charlotte Bronte, Sir Conan Doyle and J.R.R. Tolkien as I've started to make my way through My Utmost For His Highest.  It's a title is often referenced but one I just haven't brought myself to pick up until now.  As I have enjoyed making this new acquaintance, I wanted to introduce him to you.

One passage had particularly stuck with me since I read it on Friday evening on the topic of Divine Control as Chambers puts it.  In regards to "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" in Matthew 7:11, He writes, "Notion your mind with the idea that God is there.  If once the mind is notioned along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember- Why, my Father knows all about it!  It is not an effort, it comes naturally when perplexities press."  He goes on to say that in times of trouble and the common tendency is to either consider Him unfaithful or even unjust while entrenched in darkness but prayer is our answer, not to provide an end but to build our relationship with God. 

I believe that our idea of who God is must be consistent with scripture and not at all who we want God to be.  While it sounds incredibly simplistic and na├»ve to do this, consider the phrase oft spoken, "But I don't want to believe in a God who would do that!"  We fall into the wrong assumption that because God is our benevolent Father who promises to give us good things in Matthew 7:11 as aforementioned, we should never encounter trials or tribulation.  That is why I love the Chambers' concept of "notioning your mind".  It is a choice to continually train and fix our minds upon the fact that God is good and has our best in mind and once we have rooted this truth into our mental processes, it is a natural step to trust Him and continually rely on our relationship.  Peace is just as much a result of training our minds as it is a gift bestowed upon us by God.

As I said, Oswald and I already feel like old friends.  I keep returning to the same, albeit wonderful, authors and have decided that I need to introduce some new people into my reading lists since, for me, I need that constant challenge and push to discipline that is otherwise hard to come by since I tend to like the path of least resistance.  Hopefully, next time a coupon arrives, I'll get to meet someone else just as amazing and thought provoking in my literary adventures.  And, if you have any suggestions...

Monday, July 19, 2010

At Least it was Decaf...

It's never good when your two year old screams, "Need coffee!"  I do understand the sentiment however, and I know that I am partially to blame for it since I love coffee myself and love making coffee creations at home. 

Coffee has always been part of our lives.  I started drinking coffee at age 10 at Mount Herman, a family camp in Northern California, when the servers in the dining room decided it was a good idea to place the coffee carafe on a table full of kids while their parents sat blissfully unaware at another table.  Lots of cream and sugar later, I was hooked. 

I discovered the mocha at age 12, courtesy my uncle, and way too much of my babysitting money found its way into the register at the local coffee shop soon after.  I will be forever grateful to him for that! 

In college, one of the restaurants I waited tables at had an incredibly fun espresso machine so during our slow times, I showed the very green baristas how to make really fun concoctions. 

Brian and I used to go to Diedrich's coffee at least once a week until they closed when Starbucks bought out their leases.  I must confess I did go through a period of mourning when that happened since that is where we went on our first date. 

And it is embarrassing to admit but I've worn out two espresso makers and I'm several years into our third one during our now seven years of married life. 

After we bought our house, we had to cut our discretionary spending significantly and so I sadly gave up my $3.50 cup of coffee habit.  I started buying cheaper brands of coffee in bulk and making it at home and the result has been way too much exposure of coffee to our kids given that they now hear the word "coffee" and come running.  It's even more of a reaction than I get for "ice cream"!  The current favorite in our house now is the nonfat decaf hazelnut mocha frappe. 

I realized that we might have a coffee problem though when we were visiting my parents for my sister's wedding.  Late one evening, we went to my brother's softball game and my mom made coffee to take with her.  Ethan sat down next to her at the game and asked her for a sip of our course, my mom being grandma, the beloved KK as my boys call her, could not turn down his request for a sip.  Half a grande size mug later, he handed it back after shaking the cup saying, "I think there's some left."

They always say that you can see your own flaws in your kids and I'm definitely seeing my coffee excess in them so I'm wondering if it is time to made another strategic sacrifice in this arena.  It is probably a sign when my five year old gets the whip cream and tells me I forgot to put it on his frappe.  Sigh... at least if was decaf...

Friday, July 16, 2010

So Glad it is Friday!

I'm so thankful that it is Friday!  And, if Facebook status is a correct indicator, most of my friends are too. 

It has been a long week especially since Brian had a deadline for his regular job and also one for the hospital our church is helping build in Haiti.  When he made it home from work, he still had work so I had work keeping the kids busy since we have discovered that kids and architecture drawings don't mix.  I think they believe they are huge coloring sheets and they particularly enjoy trying to draw in Brian's design notebook.  To make matters more interesting, I had a migraine on Wednesday so I feel like I have been trying to catch up with the week since then.  And this morning, we were woken up by two separate incidents of loud thumps coming from each of the kids' rooms.  They both independently chose this morning to wake up by falling out of bed.  Neither are really morning people, can you tell?

So, today we limp across the finish line of the week with a messy house and kids who are in bad moods from playing too many video games.  I'm about to go turn off the Xbox to take care of the latter and was trying to clean the kitchen to deal with the former.  In putting away clean dishes, I found a water bottle tucked in the back of our cabinets that our church gave out during the Olympics a while ago.  It has the verse on it from 1 Corinthians 9:25 about being disciplined like an athlete for an eternal prize.

In our current state of exhaustion, this is exactly what I needed.  I'm reminded of all the stories about finishing strong in the Bible, particularly Paul and his perseverance while imprisoned multiple times.  It really makes the simple busyness of our week not sound so bad and goodness knows that I always could use some perspective especially when I'm so tired and hurting from my fibromyalgia. 

It is so easy to let all of the mundane stuff of life:  deadlines, kids falling out of bed, and sickness distract me from the bigger picture.  Yes, all of those things need my attention, but they aren't the end all of life.  I have a much bigger purpose than just getting by. 

I'm glad that it is Friday and hopefully I'll get a chance to recharge for next week, and what's more, I'm hoping to instill a little extra discipline in our lives this weekend and coming week.  And maybe my Facebook friends will notice more status updates about me doing extra laundry or reaching out to and serving our neighbors more!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Concept Grasped, Execution Elusive


It was one of those days. 

We've been potty training for months since we thought Luke was showing signs of readiness at 18 months.  I thought we were making progress especially since Luke appeared to be capable of going by himself and just needing help to get dressed again afterwards.  So, in a busy moment, I told him to go and that I'd be there in a minute.

This is what I found.

He was so proud of himself for being able to go in the big toilet instead of his little potty that he has been using.  Luke thought the most reliable way to make it into the toilet was to sit in it.  I mean, what else is that hole for anyway, if not to get in it?

It's one of those moments where, as a parent, you don't want to encourage the behavior but you can't help but laughing... and breaking out the camera.  And then taking him straight to the bath.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reflections on an Adidas Jacket


Lately, I've been trying to really clean out all of our stuff with the goal of only having things that we are using since it seems really materialistic to have a houseful of stuff that we don't need.  I was really proud of myself because I thought I had finally sent the last of my clothes that I still had from high school along their merry way when I realized that I still have some things from that era.  And older.  Alongside my cute vinyl jacket from the Wet Seal purchased my sophomore year and my Letterman's jacket which I earned my junior year, was my Adidas jacket. 

Many memories were made while I was wearing that jacket:  taking literature quizzes, beach nights with friends, and trying to stay warm while helping run Bible programs with churches in Mexico...when I was in junior high.  Yes, I still have an article of clothing from when I was in junior high.  This little realization has plunged me into deep reflection as to why I seem to hang onto things for far too long of a time.  This isn't a case of being thrifty, I think, since I haven't worn it in a long time since the jacket is really big on me now.  I'm sure it was huge on me then since I think grew about four inches in subsequent years.  Thankfully, the several sizes too big baggy jacket style has passed on to the "why were we thinking that ever looked flattering?" category along with the side pony tails and puffy paint of elementary school.  In fact, I think Brian could wear this jacket even though the tag says medium. 

So why is it still in my closet if I haven't worn it in eons?  That is the question...

I think I tend to keep things under the guise of being thrifty since I find myself thinking "but that's still in good condition and I might need it someday" yet it still sits there unused.  I always want to be a good steward and stretch our resources to do as much as possible but an unused jacket isn't doing anything.

Maybe it is a trust thing with God.  Even though he promised to take care of us and told us not to worry in Matthew 6:25-27, I must confess that my mind dwells on it way more than I should and I keep things so I can "be prepared" and while preparedness isn't a bad thing at all, I am right now failing to see how an old jacket is somehow making me more prepared.

Maybe I am finding too much comfort in having things around me, having my identity in stuff and holding onto memories in the form of things.  That only makes me guilty of not storing up my treasure in heaven like is says to in Matthew 6:19-21.  It costs me my focus on Christ if I am daily placing my heart in my things around me.

I'm really not sure about why I haven't been able to get rid of it yet when I'm no longer using it.  It could be that it is a combination of all three issues that I need to work out with God.  Today, my goal is to get my closet cleaned out and continue to grow in awareness of who I am and what I need to work on to live fully.  And, I have to admit that I'm really curious as to what other people might have in their closets since I have something from back in the day (read: am I the only crazy one?)  But now, I'm not sure that I'm going to get rid of the jacket because I'm now contemplating dressing up as my junior high self for Halloween.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where'd You Find That?

A long time ago, I left a brand new pair of absolutely adorable earrings on my nightstand.  I came back a short time later and they were not there.  Ethan was two at the time and Luke had yet to arrive so it was rather obvious who the culprit was (and no, it wasn't my husband).  I searched high and low for those earrings but no sign ever materialized.  Pretty sure they went down one of the air vents in the floor since Ethan was particularly enthralled with those at the time.  And my sadness at losing those earrings was brought back afresh when I wore the matching necklace yesterday, yes, three years after their mysterious disappearance.  I do acknowledge that I need to move on but this got me thinking about the odd places things tend to go in my house.  My little "helpers" are very good at keeping me on my toes.  Here are some of our most notable occurrences:
  • Pizza toppings from a little boy's lunch found, intact, laid out on the staircase.
  • A piece of poop on the bonus room floor.
  • My tank top, used as a towel, placed in the trash can.
  • Plastic game piece beans from Don't Spill the Beans in the air conditioning vent.
  • One child sized pair of shoes inside an adult pair of shoes enabling them to fit little feet properly.
  • My cell phone hidden in a water-filled bath toy boat.
  • Keys in the refrigerator.
  • A stuffed Angel's Rally Monkey hanging in a tree outside ("Monkeys like trees", I was told nonchalantly by the culprit).
  • My dust buster, dismantled, hidden under an end table.
  • A plastic pizza from the Ninja Turtles' turtle van pizza shooter inside my shoe.
  • A checker from Connect Four adhered to Ethan's cheek after he fell asleep on it.
  • Five Sippy cups stashed under my bed.
  • Two pacifier in my baking dishes (note: these are no longer allowed in our house).
  • Three granola bars, two toy cars, golf ball, bottle of nail polish and the TV remote control inside the subwoofer with an empty water bottle plugging the hole.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Quandry of Dessert

I'm losing my faith in desserts.  It isn't that they aren't good or fun or special but rather, my ability to enjoy them. 

I've always loved to bake; you could ask my little sister since we have been working on the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world for the past couple years.  Sorry, I'm not allowed to share the recipe with you though; I have been threatened with extremely painful consequences if I ever dare.  Trying new recipes and coming up with fun things to feed other people is such a fun, practical outlet for my creativity and it doesn't hurt that it is happily excepted especially by Brian and our boys. 

Sadly though, I have been told that I need to cut back on the baking and I agree.  We decided that we need to be more aware of what we are eating and so we have become huge label readers and my cookbook shows all the nutritional information underneath the recipe along with the serving size which is seldom obeyed in our family when it comes to my cookies, banana bread or sour cream coffee cake.  But, being healthy is better than...well... as you can see, I'm still trying to convince myself.

Tonight might have done it though.  We relaxed the moratorium on dessert making for Ethan's birthday.  Brian and I decided to make an ice cream cake with chocolate ganache for the birthday dessert.  After the many steps of freezing layers and assembling, it was finally looking oh so delectable when Brian thought he would check the nutritional info. 

"So, do you think we could get 16 slices out of that thing?"

"Um...no.  Is that the number of servings?"

"For the smaller version."

"Uh Oh."

So, I'm now contemplating how I would feel eating that and existing on water.  But, I'm not sure that I'll be able to enjoy the chocolaty and coffee-ish goodness knowing that my arteries are probably being narrowed with each bite.  Hence my losing faith in desserts.

Brian did say, though, "Well, we did use light whip cream..."  That made me feel a little better and maybe...just maybe...  There's some rationalization for you!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is it Fall Yet?

I came down sick with a cold yesterday which seems acutely unfair given that it is 100 degrees outside.  In fact, it has been this hot for weeks and even the supposedly heat loving and drought resistant Bermuda grass is looking rather pathetic. Summer came incredibly early this year after only what felt to be three weeks of spring and so that, combined with my cold, is making me yearn for fall already. 

I woke up early this morning with the air conditioner already kicked on (even though it is set at 80 degrees) and completely congested with an incredibly scratchy voice.  We'll just say that this was not one of my "pretty" moments.  When I was about to go get a cup of hot tea for my throat what when it really hit me that I wish it was fall because who wants to drink something hot when it is incredibly hot already?  Hence my feelings of injustice about being afflicted with a cold during a heat wave. 

I spent awhile reflecting on all the joys of fall this morning: pumpkin spice lattes, crunchy fall leaves, and crisp mornings and evenings.  Honestly, I think I was hoping that I could wish the hot weather away.  But, when I came downstairs, the three maple trees we planted in the backyard shortly after we moved into our house two and a half years ago are still bright green and showing no signs of acquiescing to my desire of a color change.  I suppose if I really wanted it, I could threaten them with a cessation in their watering schedule but I'm afraid all that would get me is a color change of the kind that I don't want. 

As my college logic professor used to say, "Just because you want it to be doesn't make it so.  This is one of the great logical fallacies!  Haven't you had your blueberries yet this morning?!"  (This dear professor touted the benefits of blueberries every morning and would always instruct us to eat them when the class was having a not the brightest crayon in the box day.)  So I must submit to the fact that we still have two and a half months of summer left, as Brian pointed out to me this morning.  If only I could just convince this cold to come back then because then I could have my pumpkin spice latte.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Called It: The Post Birthday Blues

I'm really not surprised by the question Ethan posed to me on Wednesday, the day after his birthday. 

"How long until its my birthday again?"

"364 days, Kiddo."

"Wow! That's long time!"

I wrote not long ago that I was sure that the ubiquitous kid question would show up in regard to his birthday almost immediately afterwards.  I called it; I was right.  What I didn't expect though was his amazement about how long of a time he now has to wait though.  I guess his concept of time is firming up especially since he hasn't asked me today how much longer again. 

Today and yesterday have been the days of post-birthday blues, a little known or discussed clinical condition that primarily affects young children.  We had to go to Target yesterday and the moment we walked in, he asked for an Icee.  Never mind all the candy he had just eaten since we went to see a movie, part of the Free Family Film Festival during the summer at the theater near us.  There was whining all the way to the back of the store and then controversy over which jam flavor to purchase; he had to have two kinds.  Then we had to have another folder for school, a shirt for pictures next week, and socks from the dollar section. 

Then he told me he wanted a toy and complained that I don't buy him anything...  Ethan said he was going to cry if I didn't buy him anything.  It is amazing how young they learn to blackmail.

The poor kid is tired, but I think tiredness is a factor when the human condition becomes more evident since our sophistication becomes less refined.  We had to have a talk about how we need to be grateful for everything and that threatening to cry is not ever a way to get stuff.  I think he is trying to make up for the let down after his birthday with new things to either distract himself or make him feel special again. 

The hyperbole to which Ethan took this is comical, but the truth is we all try to find our value in things that don't last.  We look to jobs titles, stuff we have, groups we belong to, and even roles we play to give us meaning and worth rather than looking at ourselves as Christ sees us.  "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." it says in Romans 8:3 and to have such a gift given to us even while we have done nothing to deserve it should tell us that anything we do, are, or say can't make us any more special than who we already are in Christ. 

When I left the store yesterday, I felt like a bad mom with out of control kids who were both on sugar highs and needed naps.  I kept thinking about how I really needed to get this message across to Ethan and how I had failed in doing so but, ironically, I needed to remember it just as much as him.  My kids are not a reflection of my worth and while I want to do the best job I can possibly do with them, I am not a better or worse person because of how they act.  It is a lesson I think that I need to write on my mirror so it stares me in the face every morning.  In fact, maybe they should just start printing it on all mirrors!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Waiting Rooms

People spend a tremendous time waiting and even have whole rooms dedicated to the pursuit of expectant nothingness.  I, being a chronic people watcher, have noticed that this time waiting and particularly in waiting rooms differs greatly according to the venue.  It struck me particularly last week when I was at the cardiologist's office even how different that office was from my normal doctor's.  After a week of reflection, I offer up this ten peso version of the waiting room personalities in American culture.

The Primary Care Doctor:  People sit quietly and as far apart as possible, most staring off into space or at the health TV show playing.  I always get the sense that everyone is terrified of catching some one else's sniffles. 

The Rheumatologist:  Very quiet.  I think this is where all the one-uppers congregate.  They all sit close together silently sizing each other up and trying to figure out who is the greatest sufferer in the flesh at that day.  This person is looked upon with a bit of reverence while anyone who looks young and able-bodied gets snooty looks from said one-uppers.

The Cardiologist:  The opposite of the rheumatologist's!  It is social hour; everyone knows everyone else and they spend the time talking about who is up to what and catching up on who's dear grandkids just graduated from school and about other beloved people in their lives.  They even offer each other snacks they have brought along for the wait, all heart healthy, of course.

The OB/GYN:  A room full of pregnant women who spend the time looking through their parenting magazines and non pregnant women who look like they would rather be anywhere else including the DMV.  Usually a very busy waiting room because most women there have other kids back at home and so they are using their time to the fullest; the world class multitaskers.  They read, pay bills, drink water, correct homework, write grocery lists, check email on iPhones and do anything but sit and stare.  Any men brought along for the ride usually look acutely uncomfortable.  But, if you need to know where the restroom is, odds are the five women in your vicinity who overheard your question will immediately point it out for you but you will probably have to wait in line. 

The Otolaryngologist:  Can be very quiet or loud depending on your point of view.  Of course, if someone hard of hearing is speaking it will be loud but if you are there for a similar problem, you probably won't notice...

The Orthopedic Surgeon's:  People here are friendly and most will admit to being accident prone.  Just be careful with all the crutches lying about everywhere since it is a dangerous mix of self acknowledged klutzy people and tripping hazards. 

The DMV:  A mix of thoroughly confused looking adults and excited/aloof teens all trying to figure out which line they are supposed to be in and when M367 is going to be called to go take their new license picture.  The people waiting for this service are easy to spot since they are the only ones who look hopeful and like they could be going out on the town as soon as they are done.  People also miraculously drop about 15 pounds or more and grow a couple of inches when they are filling out their personal information that goes on their license.  Usually the only happy people are those who are leaving.

The Spa:  The happiest people you will ever see in a waiting room.

Children's Photographer:  Children on sugar highs running around like little maniacs while tired and somewhat defeated mothers try to pick out photos of their precious munchkins smiling because they knew they would get candy.  Mothers just arriving look stressed since they have just scrubbed every inch of their dirt attracting children and are trying to keep them keep them from wiggling too much and thus wrinkling the not at all permanent press clothes that are adorable but impractical for said monkeys.

The Dentist:  Very stressed people (the only more stressed people are waiting at the IRS auditing office) who are trying to think up any emergency excuse to leave like they just found out they have a flat tire or their car battery died and need to take care of it right away...

The Mechanic:  People who are always looking at their watches and you can tell by the worried expressions that they are hoping there won't be an unexpected "leak" or something...  Each is mentally planning on what they are going to do next except for two certain families members of mine who twice went to an oil change shop and they forgot to put the oil cap on and all the new oil drained out and burned out their engines.  They are thinking about whether their AAA subscription is current.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Star Wars Birthday

Today is Ethan's fifth birthday and to celebrate the occasion, he has been wearing a crown around the house all day.  He will probably be wearing it out to dinner as well.  I made the mistake of telling him that since it is his birthday, he can do whatever he wants which means that he has played video games all morning and is now starting another one and asking me how to load it as I type.  But since Ethan is the self appointed birthday king, Lego Indiana Jones is back on and he is quite the happy camper today!

Ethan has been asking when his birthday is coming again since the week after he turned four.  His excitement level has been palpable for weeks as we started counting down to today. 

Yesterday, we ran errands for several hours finding his birthday crown, looking at every single toy in Toys R Us deciding what to spend birthday money on, picking birthday dessert, and most importantly, learning to never ever leave really cute Darth Vader birthday candles in the car during the summer because wax light sabers are liable to go limp. 

The most fun thing about all of it though has been learning more about my son as I've been listening to him tell me what he wants to do for his birthday and what he hopes to get.  Some of the more useful things I have learned:
  • Anything would be an amazing gift if it has Star Wars anything on it.
  • The cake must be a Star Wars cake.
  • The cups I bought for the party are unacceptable because they are clear and not covered with Star Wars graphics. 
  • He wants blue milk to drink.
  • One can never have too many light sabers, according to Ethan.
If it isn't yet apparently obvious, he wants a Star Wars birthday and has very much a one track mind at the moment.  He even went so far to tell me the other day that Yoda turned to him from the screen to Empire Strikes Back and told him that he is the real Luke Skywalker and he now says he is only pretending to be Ethan.  He was a bit disappointed though, when we refused to continually refer to him as Luke Skywalker. 

The rest of our day is going to be consumed with birthday fun and opening presents, which might I add, are Star Wars themed- big surprise, right?!  It seems like it hasn't been five years that this little man has been part of our family and I thank God daily for him.  And I'm sure that tomorrow, the question of when Ethan's birthday is coming again will be posed!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Just When...

Just when I was starting to think that my life is not all that adventurous, I have a day like today (or yesterday as the case may be given that it is after midnight and now is the first chance I've had to write).  Not adventurous in a big way since it was just a family gathering for the Fourth of July but, rather in the small, whispering way that I think maturity has taught me to appreciate, if not relish in. 

Tonight, I discovered how much my two year old, Luke loves fireworks.  He is normally very quiet and reserved but he exploded tonight with laughter, clapping, and exclamations in a way that he never does all at the sight of popping fireworks.  For the boys who doesn't speak much, his repeated "More pops!  More pops!" at the top of his lungs stunned us all and made me once again realize how magnetic this little boy really is as we all turned to watch him instead of the fireworks.  There is no way to adequately describe how fun and precious the moment was just watching my little boy and learning more about him and being privileged to see a side of him that I seldom get to.  It is so incredible learning more about this little person that God has given me!

When we are little, we all dream about what we want to do when we grow up and what sort of adventures we will have when we finally reach an age of independence.  I don't know of many kids that don't want to change the world in one way or another but as we grow, saving the world doesn't get to be an everyday adventure anymore which is why I think our culture struggles so much with people graduating college and still feeling lost. 

We've been told that we can take on the world and have adventures and then come to find out that not only we are on the bottom rungs of the ladders we wish to climb, the grand plans we had don't seem actionable anymore.  My plans were quite different from the life I am living now; I planned to go on with school and get my doctorate and help a lot of people but life intervened and now I am quite busy with the two cutest little people who have ever walked the face of the planet! 

I think maturity has deeply changed the way I view adventure, with a little help from C.S. Lewis.  He wrote once about how we are wired to crave adventure, to be a part of a grand story and how, in reality, God is our Hero and the whole story of our lives is about this.  Unfortunately, I have no idea where this passage was or even which of his books it is in since I read it years and years ago and it has stuck with me since.  But, the idea isn't only from C.S. Lewis.  The whole of the Bible shows the overarching story of God's redemptive heroism and astonishingly enough, we get to participate in it through following Him every day.  Adventure isn't just in the big things but it is in the little things too.

I think that is why I was so caught off guard by the little adventures I was able to have with my kids and family tonight shooting off fireworks.  I, like most of our culture, don't expect to find such adventure and consequently joy in quiet (or popping, as Luke said!) events.  But, God has made our lives to be lived with love and joy and adventure at every turn.  Just when I'm not expecting the adventure, I find a little more of it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Company's Coming!

Tonight was exhilarating, exhausting, chaotic, busy, laid back and exciting.  In short, we had company!  My sister in-law is getting married in the fall and so two other bridesmaids and I threw her a shower at my house tonight.  It was really fun; I loved being able to do it and the matron of honor did a fabulous job pulling it all together.  But, I am now very tired and upon reflection of the evening, I have realized that having company is not just the time slot I have allocated for the actual presence of guests in my google calendar.  Truthfully, it has consumed most of my week.  For whatever reason, when I know that people are going to be coming over to my house, I tend to go into my OCD mood and everything needs to be scrubbed and sparkling just so we can make it dirty again with our party.  Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?  But, my kitchen is very very white and shows every speck of anything that has ever even just been in contact with it.  My cabinets, counters, backsplash and half of the appliances are all white.  And while it does make it very bright, it also takes a lot of bleach to stay that way. 

Enter the coffee maker.  Not all that long ago, I made coffee and was letting the pot cool on the counter so I could make ice coffee without diluting it with too many ice cubes to get it to arctic temperatures.  Being the multitasked that I am, I called the adoption agency that we are looking at for a potential adoption to talk about the process and so I could ask some questions.  While I was doing this, Luke, aka Gremlin, came along and pulled all the chairs out of our dining room and lined them up in the kitchen facing the counters so with the seats all adjacent to each other, he created a nice little platform that allowed him to walk the length of the counter at the height an adult could thus giving him access to the now cooled coffee.  Let's just say that the first word out of this child's mouth when I came in after finishing my phone call to the adoption agency was "Paint!".  Stephen decided that the new preferred medium for finger-painting is coffee on white laminate countertops.  He had gotten really enthusiastic with the quantity of the coffee needed for his artwork and he used about six cups of coffee and it dripped down the cabinets leaving dark brown stains all over the lower doors. 

This incident has been flashing through my mind all week as I scrubbed, comet-ed, and bleached that section of counters and cabinets trying desperately to remove the not so wedding shower festive stains from my kitchen.  After several days of working on them, I finally found the magic formula to make it barely noticeable and I was ready to sing the hallelujah chorus.  Ironically though, the coffee incident did occur when I was trying to convince people that I would be a great parent for another child and that I can definitely handle a third baby... I think God might have been not so subtly telling me that I need a teaspoon more humility... or maybe six cups worth.  But, nobody noticed the stains tonight and the shower was so fun so I can go to bed knowing that nobody knew, unless of course, they decide to read my blog.